People are our greatest assets: Sharad Saxena

Sharad Saxena, Executive Director, Operations & HR at HT Media speaks on what drives the company’s work culture

e4m by Noor Fathima Warsia
Updated: Jul 18, 2012 7:49 PM
People are our greatest assets: Sharad Saxena

Not many media companies made it to the Great Places to Work – Economic Times study of best places to work. But ranking as the number one media company on the list was HT Media that owns and operates The Hindustan Times, Hindustan and Mint, as well as radio station Fever 104 FM. HT Media was ranked number one in the media industry, number 16 amongst the top 50 companies to work for and number 14 amongst the top 50 companies to work for with over 1000 employees.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Sharad Saxena, Executive Director, Operations and HR at HT Media speaks on what goes behind the work culture that HT has created at the company. Excerpts:

Congratulations on being nominated as the best place to work by the recent Great Places to Work ­ Economic Times Study. What, according to you, are the attributes that led HT Media to win such recognition?
Thank you very much. To be honest, targeting this award was never our plan. But reaching this goal certainly was. In 2006-07, under the stewardship of Rajiv Verma (CEO), the entire leadership team did an extensive exercise to develop our enterprise vision. We converged on two big goals – to be the most successful media company (defined in very specific terms) and to be an employer of choice. We knew both these goals necessitated major cultural transformation to be led by the entire leadership team. The 2012 GPTW-Economic Times' study recognising HT Media as the best Indian Media Company to work for, is an achievement not only of a cherished goal but is also a reflection of the strength and integrity of our corporate culture today. That's what I would attribute this success to.

How have you created this work culture over the years?
Let me first acknowledge that while we have crossed some major milestones in our transformation journey, it is by no means an end state. We've come a long way and we'll keep evolving. During the past five-six years we worked on three key pillars that set the foundation for our cultural transformation. They helped us spell out the desired behaviours and achievement orientation in the organisation.

• Our Leadership Model – Leading at the Edge
• Our Corporate Values – Courage, Responsibility, Empowerment, Continuous Self Renewal and People Centric
• Our Vision for year 2020

What have been some key focus areas for the company on the human resource front?
First and foremost has been diverse leadership and talent induction at all levels. Then, orientation to company values, creation of strong communication channels, performance driven work culture backed by strong reward and recognition systems and capability building have been our top HR priorities.

What is HT¹s future vision on creating an environment that gets the best from its human assets?
Just staying true to our value of people centric approach – People are our greatest assets. We invest in them, expect a lot and know the rest will follow.

Please share more on the overall HT values and on what order would you place HR?
We are an organisation, guided very strongly by our five Corporate Values...not as much by a set of egalitarian people policies. The annual employee performance appraisal has a built-in rigorous evaluation of behaviour displayed in the context of values. We have enough patience to deal with and help improve poor performance of an employee, but no patience for behaviour that violates our values. On the other hand we have very prestigious and high impact reward and recognition platforms such as the Star Awards, targeted to recognise outstanding individual/team results that showcase company values. All the five values for us are equally important. How people feel they are treated is best answered by them. Our people have rated the company high in the employee survey – which contributed significantly to our having been rated as the best media company. We are proud of them and committed to be even more people centric.

Did it worry you that in the overall list of great places to work, while there were technology led media owners, there were not any traditional media owners?
Not at all. Quite to the contrary...Today HT Media is strongly entrenched and is gearing up further into technology-led media platforms, while maintaining a strong growth on its traditional media domain. In the context of best companies to work for, HT Media stands out as the best company in media space that provides opportunities in traditional as well as new age media.

A few words on what this award means to HT Media?
We are naturally happy. It reinforces our belief that we have been moving in the right direction. We still have a long way to go, but we'll surely take a momentary pause to celebrate it.

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